Crime And Criminals Blog - Crimes, criminals, scams and frauds.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Famous Criminals - Gregory Earl Caplinger

Gregory Earl Caplinger, Born March 25, 1953. Alias Gregory Frazier, is a fraudulent doctor who supposedly created a drug called ImmuStim in which Caplinger claimed that, in various forms, was effective against cancer, AIDS, allergies, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and several other conditions. For many years he claimed to be a distinguished and widely published medical doctor and researcher. However, he did not have a bona fide medical degree and has also been in trouble at least six times for defrauding people.

During the mid-1990s, he began operating a clinic in the Dominican Republic that offered treatment to desperate patients. For several years, he administered it at the International Institute of Medical Science Hospital and Clinics (IIMS/HC) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, whose literature identified him as "Gregory Earl Caplinger, MD, DSc., FACIP, FIAM." During 1996, one of his confederates, Charles David Weekly solicited investors in Immuno Pharmaceuticals, a company that had been set up to market ImmuStim as an AIDS remedy. According to these documents:

The general formula of the medicine is immune system stimulators, antioxidants, enzymes, and other biological agents in specific doses and combinations, including the following agents (the general formula):

  • Essential/non-essential amino acids
  • Interleukin 2
  • Procaine 2% (subcutaneous form only)
  • Interferon alpha
  • Coenzymes compositum
  • Echinacea compositum Forte S (a part of ImmuStim-V protocol only)
  • Cutis compositum
  • Engystol-N

Weekly's solicitation stated that the clinic had operated for 12 years, had treated more than 1,200 cancer patients, and was operated by Immuno Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and World Medical Services, S.A., Inc. The treatment, most forms of which are intravenous, was said to be administered daily for two weeks, three times a week for two weeks, twice a week for the second month, and once every other week for the third month. The solicitation summarized data said to be the results of clinical trials, but there was not enough detail to evaluate the reported results. Interleukin 2 and interferon have legitimate use against a few cancers. However, the solicitation stated that the doses Caplinger used were lower than those used for standard cancer care. Caplinger also said: (a) ImmuStim was manufactured in the Dominican Republic; (b) he discovered it and had sole control over its administration and research; and (b) Immuno Pharmaceuticals held a Dominican patent and had applied for a U.S. patent. According to figures compiled by the FBI, approximately 15 people were swindled out of a total of approximately $230,000 they invested in Immuno Pharmaceuticals stock. Another investor who had signed a contract to invest $2.3 million pulled out after concluding that something was wrong. A brochure distributed in 1999 described IIMS/HC as "a division of the parent Company, THE RAPHAH GROUP, LTD, which is a well known organization serving Latin America and the Caribbean in the area of health care and medicine." The brochure described IIMS/HC as "one of the most progressive and innovative facilities in the world." It further described the facility as having"100+ private rooms" and as "a full service hospital with the most modern full service facilities in the world." The building, pictured in the brochure, is six stories high. However, three people who visited the facilities told said:

  • The building was a converted office building with other medical offices on the second and third floors.
  • Caplinger merely rented space on the top three floors. One floor housed his office, one had treatment rooms and a few "hospital rooms," and the third had more "hospital rooms." The total number of private rooms was no more than 20, not all of which appeared to be in use.
  • "Hospital" patients had to supply their own sheets.
  • The building had no hot-water supply.

Cost of Treatment

Another IIMS/HC brochure stated that the "cost levels" ranged from $3,000 -$6,000 for "General" care to more than $80,000 for "Level Four" care. Five people who contacted me have described costs ranging from $40,000 to $85,000. The brochure stated that "most therapies are reimbursed by private medical insurance plans" except for HMOs, and ICD-9 or CPT code numbers are provided for submitting insurance claims. Most private insurance policies do not cover nonstandard treatment. Therefore, if insurance companies actually paid for Caplinger's services, they didn't realize what was involved.

Some patients made their arrangements through Nancy Wayne, R.N., of Allenwood, Pennsylvania, whose letterhead in 1999 described her as director of IIMS's North American Office of Patient Affairs. She distributed information packets, arranged for a telephone interview with Caplinger, and told prospective patients how to obtain instructions for wiring payment to a bank in Santo Domingo. Wayne has also identified herself as assistant executive director of The Gift of Hope Cancer Foundation, a Delaware-based organization claimed to offer "funding, after approval, for such support as conventional treatment, alternative treatment, traveling expenses and medical assistance not covered by insurance." Although a letter from Wayne stated that contributions to the foundation are tax deductible, the foundation letterhead stated "A Non-Profit Organization . . . Application Pending."

One patient who made arrangements through Wayne told me she was asked to fax her medical records to Caplinger, who replied:

After much review and evaluation of your specific case we will be able to consider your admission. . . . Your current condition is unstable to say the least and we will need to move aggressively. . . . Due to our limited admission of foreign patients you need to call this Administration this day.

The patient had had a colon cancer surgically removed nine months previously. Although follow-up tests had found no evidence of cancer, she contacted Caplinger because she thought that an unconventional treatment might boost her immune system to reduce the odds of recurrence. She states that Caplinger persuaded her to come by telling her that a small Nabothian cyst, mentioned in an ultrasound report, "could go either way" and therefore she needed immediate treatment. The estimated cost was $80,000 to $90,000, with a $40,000 advance deposit. Frightened by the thought that the cyst could become malignant, she wired the deposit and went for treatment. Nabothian cysts are plugged glands that pose no health threat and have nothing whatsoever to do with cancer. Shortly after arriving at Caplinger's clinic, the patient realized she had been defrauded, demanded a refund, and got back $20,000.

Dubious "Credentials"

Caplinger claimed to havean I.Q. of 210 and be a "Professor emeritus at various universities and a Professor of Medicine." An IIMS/HC booklet stated:

Dr. Gregory E. Caplinger is both a scientist and a clinical physician. It has been Dr. Caplinger's goal and experience through the years to combine the pure scientific with practical clinical application.

He is a European (British) and U.S. trained physician with his medical residency and further subspecialties of clinical oncology/immunology. He currently continues his post-graduate medical education both in Europe and the United States, where he regularly attends courses at Harvard Medical School, Division of Continuing Education. His board certifications include Internal Medicine/Clinical Oncology.

In conjunction with his medical studies, Dr. Caplinger completed a Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) in Biochemistry/Immunology. It is in these disciplines that he continues his research and writing of articles.

He has published 26 articles as primary author and written a laboratory manual entitled "Practical and Clinical Immunology for the Classroom. He recently completed a textbook titled "Progressive Immunology" (Released in 1996).

His past and present accomplishments are noted and include the "Caribbean International Prize in Medicine" (international prize given to scientists that have contributed vital information in the area of Medicine. He is also a member of many scientific/medical organizations where he has also held positions of leadership. Further, Dr. Caplinger has recently (1995-1996) been named as an entry to the national publication International Who's Who of Contemporary Achievement, recognized for Excellence in Medicine and Science. Dr. Caplinger is also very active in teaching and lecturing worldwide.

His biographical sketch in the International Who's Who of Contemporary Achievement read:

Physician. Personal: Born March 25, 1953; Son of Louis Earl (deceased) and Neva Marie Caplinger. Education: B.A., Biology, Indiana University, 1974; D.Sc., Biochemistry/Immunology, Sussex College of Technology (UK), 1987; M.D., Metropolitan Collegiate Institute (UK), 1982. Physician, Institute of Medical Science 1987 to present, Centro de Ottornolarigologia & Sussex General Hospital, 1979 to present; Director of Research, Immuno-Oncology, Immuno Pharmaceuticals (UK, U.S.A., D.R.), 1984 to present; Professor of Medicine, Utesa School of Medicine, Dominican Republic, 1989-92. Organizational Memberships: American College of International Physicians (fellow, 1993 to present); Board Certified, British College of Physicians and Surgeons, 1988 to present. Community Activities: Minister of Health, British West Indies Health Confederation (non profit medical organization for developing nations), 1990-94. Published Works: Author. "Treatment of HIV/AIDS Infected Patients with Biological Response Modifier-ImmuStim-V" in Progressive Immunology, 1994. Honors and Awards: Caribbean International Prize in Medicine, 1987; ANMA Doctor of the Year, 1985.

Except for the biology degree, all of the above credentials were bogus or questionable.

The 1986 American Medical Directory, which listed all recognized foreign medical schools, did not include "Metropolitan Collegiate Institute." The 9th edition of Bear's Guide to Non-Traditional College Degrees stated that Metropolitan Collegiate, in London, England, "Sells all degrees including medical and dental degrees for $100. The address is a mail-forwarding service sending mail to Yorkshire, in the north of England. It is hard to believe that the British government could allow this to go on, but it has for years." In the late 1990s, an AMA investigation concluded that Caplinger did not have a legitimate medical degree. The current AMA Master File, which contains information about all of the more than 900,000 physicians who have been licensed to practice in the United States, contains no listing for Caplinger. The Sussex College of Technology—which cannot be located today through UK directory assistance—was considered a diploma mill. The 9th edition of Bear's Guide stated: "Sussex, England. Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctorates in almost any field. Sussex is run from a large private home south of London. At the same address and with similar catalogs, are the Brantridge Forest School and the University of the Science of Man. They all offer "earned degrees' for which a few correspondence courses are required, and 'extension awards' which are for the same degrees and diplomas for no work at all. Honorary Doctorates are awarded free, but there is a $100 engraving and processing charge. Other programs cost from $100 to $500." The 1999 edition of Bear's Guide stated that "in 1988 a new British law came into effect forbidding such 'schools' to accept students who enrolled after May 1st." The Sussex College of Technology was operated by "Dr." Bruce Copen, who said that he became a doctor of homeopathy by completing a correspondence course in 1952. In 1990, he gave a Sussex Police Department investigator a letter from Caplinger specifying that: (a) his "doctor of science" degree should be be dated 105/87; (b) that his dissertation should be titled "Biochemical and Immunological Approaches to Cancer Therapy"; (c) his "transcript" show that he had completed 58 hours of study with a grade-point average of 4.00 (straight A's); and (d) the degree and paperwork should be sent by express mail. The letter had been accompanied by a $70 check. The "College of Physicians and Surgeons," if one exists, is not a recognized British medical organization. "Board certified" is an American term. Caplinger is not certified by any board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Papers distributed by one of Caplinger's agents stated Immuno Pharmaceuticals was registered as a corporation in Pennsylvania in 1995 and that in 1996 Caplinger owned 30% of its stock. The "research" produced by Caplinger and/or the company is described in the last section of this article. The initials "FACIP" stand for "Fellow of the American College of International Physicians." ACIP is a respectable voluntary organization that conducts health-related activities intended to benefit the medical profession and the public. It has approximately 1,500 members, most of whom are physicians. Physicians who join ACIP are called "fellows." Caplinger is not listed in ACIP's online (1996) directory, but he did belong in the past. Since voluntary health organizations don't normally check the credentials of their applicants, Caplinger became an "FACIP," even though he could not meet the eligibility requirements. Caplinger's Progressive Immunology does not resemble any textbook that have ever seen. During a half-hour scan, about 200 spelling errors were spotted. The book's 223 pages included a few introductory pages, 11 chapters, and a 2-page list of references. Four chapters resembled standard texbook chapters with citations (the author's last name and publication date) embedded in the text. However, no references corresponding to these citations were listed anywhere in the book. He probably lifted these chapters from standard textbooks but forgot to include the references. Most other chapters mention no references at all, except where charts or drawings are used. One chapter (about "homeotoxicology") is pure gobbledygook. The final reference list is not numbered and is neither in alphabetical nor chronologic order. The only citation later than 1984 is a report written by Caplinger himself. Considering how rapidly medical science is advancing, do you believe that a textbook whose references are at least 12 years old could be valid?

Schemes and Prosecutions

In 1984, the Florida Department of Professional Regulation investigated complaints indicating that Caplinger had been practicing medicine without a license. The case was settled without prosecution because Caplinger signed a cease-and-desist agreement, said he had terminal cancer and was moving to France for treatment, and indicated that he had no intention of returning to Florida.

The IIMS/HC brochure stated that "for the last 20 years Dr. Caplinger has made his home in the Dominican Republic." However, investigative reports indicate that, in 1986, he operated the "Natural Health and Therapy Clinic" in Boone, North Carolina, while falsely representing that he had valid medical and naturopathic credentials. Later that year, he closed this facility but began seeing patients in the office of a chiropractor in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. During 1987 and 1988, Caplinger operated the Blue Ridge Health Clinic in Blowing Rock while advertising in the 1987 and 1988 Yellow Pages as a "Naturopathic Physician, Registered with the Board of Naturopathic Physicians." A reporter who investigated found that no such state board existed but the telephone directory had a listing for the "NCB of NP" at the same address as Caplinger's office. During this period, Caplinger claimed that he had cured himself of cancer using "natural healing" techniques.

Near the end of 1988, after Caplinger had practiced illegally for more than three years, North Carolina authorities charged him with practicing medicine without a license. He left the area shortly after his arrest. In 1989, his attorney entered a plea of guilty to the charge, and Caplinger received a two-year suspended prison sentence and was fined $500, the maximum penalty allowed by North Carolina law. During the period in which Caplinger was being investigated, a North Carolina official informed me that Caplinger had more than 30 certificates on his office wall. One of them was a "Doctor of Medicine" degree from the British West Indies Medical College, a correspondence school Caplinger himself operated (or pretended to operate). During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Caplinger also sold "interest" in this school.

While operating the Blue Ridge Medical Clinic, Caplinger acquired an associate named Laurence Perry, whose credentials included a "diploma" from the British West Indies School of Medicine. In 2002, Perry was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and practicing medicine without a license following the death of an eight-year-old diabetic child whose mother followed Parry's advice to stop administering insulin. Another individual sporting a medical degree from this "school" is Joel Robbins, who operates the Health & Wellness Clinic of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Robbins, a licensed chiropractor, also has a naturopathic "degree" from the Anglo-American Institute of Drugless Therapy, which is a diploma mill.

In 1993, Caplinger was charged in Florida with two counts each of financial exploitation of the elderly, grand larceny, and practicing medicine without a license. The investigator's report indicates that in 1990, while working in Florida as a medical assistant, Caplinger persuaded two elderly women that he was a "world renowned doctor" with a clinic in Santo Domingo and could help their husbands, who had Alzheimer's disease. After the treatment failed to help, the women realized that they had been duped and complained to the authorities. The "Alias/Street Name" box on the arrest record has the entry "Gregory Frazier." A report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) states that the case was settled with a guilty plea and a "no contest" plea to reduced charges of "theft to deprive." Caplinger was placed on nonreporting probation for one year and ordered to return the victims' money.

In 1996, Caplinger was arrested in Broward County, Florida, on ten counts of racketeering (RICO) and grand theft. The charges related to a 1993 scheme that defrauded chiropractors of "tuition" paid to attend his "medical school" in the Dominican Republic. More than 120 individuals paid several thousand dollars each. In 1997, the charges were dismissed after Caplinger agreed to make partial restitution. According to a report in Dynamic Chiropractic, Caplinger pretended to operate two entities: the "British West Indies Medical School" and the "Universidad Federico Henriquez Y Carvajal," to which students would supposedly transfer after nine weeks of preparatory coursework.

In 1999, a federal grand jury indicted Caplinger, Charles David Weekly, and Harry J. Kampetis on one count of conspiracy and a total of 21 counts of wire fraud. The indictment stated that Weekly began soliciting money in 1992 and became partners with Kampetis in 1993 in schemes in which investors were promised very high rates of return. In 1995, after losing more than $2 million in various trading programs, the pair incorporated Immuno Pharmaceuticals to market Caplinger's alleged AIDS treatment and began transferring money to Caplinger without informing the investors they were doing this. (Caplinger apparently used some of the money to make restitution to his "medical school" victims.) According to the indictment, Caplinger falsely represented to Weekly and Kampetis that he was an accomplished and published medical doctor and was a candidate at one time for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work involving AIDS patients; and Weekly and Kampetis promoted Caplinger's medical program on this basis. The indictment concluded that over a five-year period Weekly and Kampetis raised approximately $4.9 million from investors and "paid approximately $764,192 in interest to the investors in order to give the appearance of validity of the investment schemes." (Swindles in which early investors are paid off with funds raised from later ones are called "Ponzi schemes.") Caplinger's share of the indictment included six acts of wire fraud totaling $1,039,000.

In 1999, an FBI agent testified at a detention hearing about why Caplinger should not be trusted to be released on bail. On the following day, he surprised everyone by pleading guilty and was permitted to reside with his mother in Indiana until the time he is sentenced. The release terms included: (a) remaining in Indiana, (b) electronic monitoring of his whereabouts, (c) surrender of his passport, (d) a ban on providing any type of health-care service or soliciting of investors, and (e) a $100,000 performance bond (secured by his mother's house). In 2000, a judge permitted Caplinger to rescind his guilty plea, and later he permitted Caplinger to leave Indiana to help prepare his defense. In March, two counts of money laundering were added to Caplinger's indictment. Weekly and Kampetis pled guilty to all of the charges against them.

In July 2000, after a six-day trial, a a North Carolina jury convicted Caplinger on all counts of wire fraud and money laundering related to "investments" in his phony remedy "ImmuStim.", During the trial, government witnesses made it crystal clear that Caplinger's claim to be a medical doctor was bogus. They also exhibited photographs of several buildings mentioned in Caplinger's documents. The address for the Sussex General Hospital was occupied by an answering service; the "Florida Degenerative Disease Center" address was that of a liquor store; and so on. Caplinger did not show up to hear the jury verdict but fled with his fiancée (Flabia Berroa) to the Dominican Republic and remained at large for nearly a year before being captured. In July 2001, he was apprehended and returned to the United States for sentencing. In October, the judge gave him the maximum sentence permissible under federal sentencing guidelines.

In March 2001, a federal Grand Jury for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania indicted Caplinger on 39 counts of wire fraud and money laundering in connection with patients seen at his Dominican clinic. In 2002, he pleaded guilty to one count and was sentenced to 5 years in prison, 3 of which would run consecutively and 2 of which would follow his previous sentence. He was also fined and ordered to make restitution of $484,545.

While in prison, Caplinger appealed his sentence and got it reduced by about three years. His projected prison release date is now July 28, 2012.

Crimes of Persuasion: Schemes, scams, frauds


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gregory Earl Caplinger passed away July 6, 2009....

5:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

He went to Beliz in an attempt to start another bogus medical school after UFHEC failed and met with the minister of health there. They denied his proposal.

8:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Weekley is now running Waterscapes Pro, charlotte pond builder, in Charlotte nc. He has his company registered through his mother and son in an attempt to swindle the government out of restitution he owes to his victims.

1:50 PM


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